Sat Jun 05 11:33am EDT
Francesca Schiavone's cheering section at Saturday's French Open final wore matching black T-shirts with the phrase "Nothing Is Impossible." The 29-year-old Italian proved it Saturday at Roland Garros.
In one of the most unexpected Grand Slam victories in recent tennis history, Schiavone won the French Open with a rousing 6-4, 7-6 victory over No. 7 seed Sam Stosur. She became the first Italian to win a Grand Slam and the second-oldest first-time Grand Slam champion.
Prior to this tournament, Schiavone had never made it to a Slam semifinal and had played her way into just three quarterfinals in her previous 39 majors. But with her wicked slice, new racquet strings and a varied strategy to combat Stosur's big serve, Schiavone pulled the upset over the woman who had knocked off three former No. 1s (Serena Williams, Justine Henin and Jelena Jankovic) en route to the final.
Though the red clay of Roland Garros is known for sometimes producing unlikely winners (Iva Majoli and Anastasia Myskina come to mind), Schiavone might trump them all. She has been a solid tour player for at least seven years, hovering in or around the top 20 for much of the time. But she'll turn 30 in 18 days and had won just three tournaments during her 10-year career. In theory, she should have peaked long ago. Now she'll enter her third decade as a Grand Slam champion.
After the match, Schiavone was asked by NBC's John McEnroe about the expectations she had entering this year's French. "Expectation," she said rhetorically. "No. But dream? Always. When I was younger I was always dreaming to win this tournament. Now it's time to enjoy."